By Love Rutledge
Perhaps there are women in New Orleans who follow the Saints closely, maybe even watch LSU and Tulane games on a regular basis. I, however, am not one of them. Despite my Southern upbringing, I feel no end-all-be-all connection to football.
Let me back up.
I was raised on Bama ball, a product of lower Alabama (L.A., as some of the more pseudo-stylish people from the Gulf Coast call it). I'm not sure how old I was when I realized that Paul Bryant's first name wasn't really Bear. On game days, my mom would make her famous cheesy bean dip and the three of us would hoot and holler at the TV. The contents of the casserole dish would be gone by the time the fourth quarter started. Though the event afforded us the opportunity to spend time together, it was always truly Dad's day. Left to our own devices, we ladies of the house would never elect to watch football on television.
When asked the quintessential Alabama question, "Who do you go for?" I always responded "Bama," but that response was inherited.
Don't get me wrong. I love sports. I'm falling behind in work because I can't get enough of the World Series. I love ball park popcorn the kind that leaves a painful burning sensation in the corner of your mouth because Jo Anna in the concession stand poured in too much salt. I love watching an underdog climb back to clench a victory. I love that 75-year-old fan Coach lets on the team bus so he can keep up his 300+ games-watched streak. But I don't love football. I don't understand why people buy those little plastic-poled flags with their team's emblem and attach them to their vehicles.
I don't understand why people use hard-earned vacation time to travel to away games. I really don't understand how to pronounce the name Favre. (I'm relatively sure no one in Mississippi can say it, either.) I don't understand how anyone could have the last name Booty -like one of LSU's players fighting over the quarterback spot. Last year I thought, maybe, I would have a more sustained interest in men playing with their pigskin.
I was wrong.
As quickly as he had come, he vanished. Like Santa Claus in green and blue, Tommy Bowden built up hopes and then crushed them with the abrupt departure no one seemed to see firsthand. Again this year, I found myself at a Southern school with little football fervor, no chest painting, no mania over who was in the end zone, and a big, empty Superdome. And the city of New Orleans offers little in the way of great athletics. The Saints are, well, just there. All of the hullabaloo over their boy wonder with the funky hair seems to be much ado about nothing. Everyone and their brother in the Crescent City seem to hate Ditka. The Saints don't inspire me to fandom.
I'll never be one of those women supporting her city's team, screaming her head off for the ESPN cameras. This year (since turning 21) I have, however, learned one thing that makes the sport tolerable. Nothing chases a shot of football down better than a large, overpriced beer bought from a man who wears a paper hat and calls you "Honey" and means it. Now that's something I can appreciate.
Love Rutledge is a free-lance writer working on a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and communications at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Copyright © The Southerner 1999.